Seventy years of care and expectation
The first official broadcast of Dutch television, on Tuesday 2 October 1951 from a quarter past eight to a quarter past ten for a ten-year-old schoolgirl from Leeuwarden. She afterwards at the Leeuwarder Courant that she had found the make-up of presenter Jeanne Roos much too black. A man in The Hague was also there to sit down; he was touched by the fact that he had been able to follow everything: ‘even the prompter could be heard’. The royal family had also seen the broadcast in the library at Soestdijk Palace and they had all ‘enjoyed’.
The reactions from across the country to that television are aimed at everyone, young and old, male and female, rich and poor. Although poor? Given the price of the first devices, that is a question, the Philips television set wants 785 guilders, a third of the annual annual income of 2500 guilders. If you wanted a squat model that was incorporated into a beautiful piece of furniture, then quickly more than 2000 guilders. Unattainable for the common man, one would say. But the newspaper for workers de Volkskrant also mentioned that ‘workers with deserved children want to afford this luxury’.
So that was a lot of savings for most people. The longing for the great worlds that such a beautiful device could show was; The Telegraph just to be sure, it already depicts what the four buttons on the device spent for. We do not know for sure whether there were many viewers on that Tuesday evening, but more than a few hundred devices had not yet been sold. The majority of the Netherlands will have radio on Tuesday evening; there were millions of radios in the living rooms and the radio listening program was recorded in the evenings, the peak period of the day, with ‘the common man at the head’ for the average family. On 2 October, the KRO broadcast on Hilversum 1 ‘The common man says it is’ and on Hilversum 2 the varied entertainment program of the AVRO could be viewed.
Good television reception was of course also limited to about 70 kilometers in the radius of the transmitter in Lopik. Upstairs (in the form of only ten devices to be found) and real Zwolleer and the sound were unintelligible. In Groningen, a vague picture was received thanks to the stunt of radio company Renkema in the Ebbingestraat, which had placed an antenna of sixty meters high on the local water tower. But after an hour the broadcast in Groningen had completely disappeared, never to return. report of the regional daily newspaper on the front page it was magical that images of Secretary of State Jo Cals, who had opened the broadcast in a worryingly optimistic tone, had been seen from that distance:
“Hokus, pokus, pilatus… Cals!”
But there were also others of interest. In the Kinkerstraat in Amsterdam, a radio company had put a television set in its shop window, causing the crowd to become so large that the tram could no longer drive through the street. In several cafes it was unusually large and people could stand up to something outside. Especially the follow-up with the specifics of viewing experiences was very pleasant.
‘the incident indicated that a lot would now really become visible in the Netherlands; much that remained invisible’
All in all, there was much amazement and amazement at so much ingenuity. The action of the labor inspectorate at the studio in Bussum was detonating in connection with the performance of eleven-year-old Louis Bouwmeester in the first television game. magic mirror. Father Kors, the chairman of the NTS, got off with a reprimand and a warning, but the incident indicated that a lot would now really become visible in the Netherlands; much that had remained invisible.
Seventy years of care and expectation
If we consider the reactions to the first broadcast, the mix of exciting expectation on the part of the ordinary viewer and some concern about the results is the most striking. This worrisome optimism at least marked the start of television in the 1950s.
‘What the atomic bomb is to human society, television can be to culture’
… wrote UNESCO in a 1953 report on the state of television worldwide. The NTS copied it without hesitation in its retrospective. A comparison with the atomic bomb leek, but men seem to like that too; the NTS of course took over the quote but preferred to speak ‘atomic power’. Because the N felt that natural could have negative and destructive effects, but also a lot of constructive and positive. With unprecedented power, television could broaden horizons and change things for the benefit of large groups who previously did not participate only sideways in politics, society and culture. Provided… of course with a if, because there is always a if with great expectations. Provided that the making of programs would remain in the hands of responsible organizations and persons who are not greedy for money, status or power, but for cultural dissemination, education, reliable news, correct information and responsible entertainment.
Action Open the Village (1962)
The seventy-year history of the debate about television in the Netherlands shows itself through a strongly fluctuating relationship of worry and optimism. With completely different projects and, yes. At one moment, boundless euphoria could arise over the television showing important and joyful moments. Whether it’s the fundraiser Open the Village was, the European Championship win of the Dutch national football team in 1988, the final of the Eurovision songfestival from the glorious first winner of Big Brother in 1999, television was always the unifying center. But it was precisely because of this enormous social significance that the euphoria could easily turn into deep concern. Often it was not politics or top athletes who are not recognized in the image that television gave of them, sometimes it was parents who watched with their television-addicted children. Television critics were annoyed by the poorer taste in programs, minority groups do not reflect their identity sufficiently and people with deeply sincere feelings are removed by televisions in their deepest convictions. They all wanted to do something about the power of the medium, something more radical than others.
Big Brother Final (1999)
That became a never ending discussion. It has happened when one of those groups has been in a position to force a definitive ‘solution’ to the problem identified. Television had to be broadcast because the content was and is always relevant and meaningful. For some this could be confronting and oppressive, for others enriching and liberating. That results in seventy years of struggle, debate and quarreling, as will be repeated several times in this book.
Because of the enormous social, general and cultural significance of the historians who wrote the Canon of the Netherlands envisioned that one of the fifty windows in history education should be ‘Television: Breakthrough of a Mass Medium’. They acknowledged that this breakthrough had major and elaborate consequences for social behavior and unwanted changes. This was also the case for other elements of the amended Canon from 2019. Elements such as the ‘Orange feeling’ and ‘Srebrenica’ are difficult to understand without looking at the role of television for sports experience and (international) political debate.
~ Huub Females
Book: The television. A cultural history – Huub Wijfjes
Also interesting: 65 years of children’s television in Flanders and the Netherlands